Leopold Conservation Award Program - South Dakota 2014

South Dakota 2014 Rock Hills Ranch Lowry, SD Leopold Conservation Award Recipient

Holistic resources management focused on long-term sustainability is a way of life at Rock Hills Ranch. Lyle and Garnet Perman, along with their son Luke and his wife Naomi, raise crops and Angus cattle on the 7,500-acre ranch near Lowry.

Previous owners of the property operated a dairy and crop farm on marginal soils. But Lyle’s father began the process of planting the tillable ground back to grass and alfalfa.

Rock Hills Ranch

Over the years, the Permans learned more about grazing management, and started adding cross-fencing in pastures, conservation-minded cropping practices and water developments like dugouts and pipelines. Their stewardship extended to protecting water quality, enhancing native plant communities, improving soil health and providing high quality wildlife habitat. Today, their diversified operation also includes hosting hunting groups and eco tours. Lyle has taken a keen interest in how land management practices and soil health affect water infiltration, runoff, water quality and watershed hydrology. Decisions to institute rotational grazing, adopt no-till practices and plant cover crops were made to keep water on the land.

“Our number one goal is not to let a drop of water leave the ranch,” Lyle said. Beyond engaging in exemplary stewardship on their own land, the Permans actively share their story with others. “The willingness and commitment to telling the story of sustainable farming and ranching…is one of the things that sets the Perman family apart,” said South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks Senior Wildlife Biologist Tim Olson in a nomination letter. “Lyle and his family strive to help the general public understand that raising high quality beef can indeed be compatible with maintaining and even enhancing the quality of grassland and wetland resources.”

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